Help a Friend: Abusive Relationships

How to Help a Friend Who is Being Abused

Believe. Listen. Act.

What Should I Know?

Listen without judging.

Know it is hard to understand the pain your friend is going through. Be aware your friend may assume blame, fault, and responsibility for the abuse. Oftentimes, survivors just want the unhealthy/abusive behavior to stop; there are usually many good times in the relationship, too.

Explain that abuse is NEVER acceptable.

There's no excuse for abuse?not alcohol or drugs, financial pressure, depression/mental illness, or jealousy.

Understand your friend's feelings

...of guilt, shame, sadness, confusion, and loneliness.

What Can I Do?

Make sure your friend knows they are not alone.

Don't be afraid to reach out to your friend who needs help. Offer to talk or just hang out.

Empower your friend to make their own decision.

Your friend has been stripped of power and control in the relationship, so it is important to validate their feelings and put them back in control. Attempting to force them to leave the relationship, or take other steps they aren't yet ready for, can feel just as disempowering as the relationship itself.

Make your friend comfortable.

Say you are concerned for their safety and want to help. Tell them they deserve better.

Be supportive and listen patiently.

Acknowledge your friend's feelings about the relationship, whatever they may be.

Help your friend recognize the abuse is not normal and is not their fault.

Everyone deserves a healthy and non-violent relationship.

Focus on your friend, not on the abuser.

Even if your friend stays with their partner, it is important they still feel comfortable talking to you about it. Bad-mouthing them may feel natural in this situation, but it may serve to isolate your friend from you.

Be respectful and understanding.

...of your friend's decisions about the relationship.

Help boost your friend's self-esteem.

Connect your friend to campus and community resources.

Provide information, guidance, and referrals.

Help your friend develop a safety plan in case of emergency.

Have a plan to change residences or classes. Arrange for a safe ride or keep cab money on hand. Carry extra cash, important documents, a change of clothes and an extra set of keys in a safe place such as a friend's or neighbor's home.

Continue to be supportive after the relationship is over.

Get advice.

If you want to talk with someone to get advice about a particular situation, contact the VIP Center at (402) 280-3794 or VIPcenter@creighton.edu, the Center for Health and Counseling at (402) 280-2735 or the Women's Center for Advancement's 24/7 hotline at (402) 345-7273.  In a campus emergency, call Creighton Public Safety at (402) 280-2911.

Source: Adapted from, "How to Help Someone Who Is Being Abused" courtesy of the Family Violence Prevention Fund, "Help a Friend in Need" at www.endabuse.org.